Last month was National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Law enforcement agencies across the United States participated in or launched campaigns in an effort to stop distracted driving. Many of them, including the New Jersey State Police, took part in the nationwide campaign “U Text, U Drive, U Pay,” to crack down on drivers who text and drive. Some law enforcement agencies even received grants to increase patrols to pull over drivers who text and drive.
New Jersey’s safety officials hoped that the crackdown would decrease the numbers of New Jersey drivers who text and drive in the same way that the “Click It or Ticket” effort has increased the number of drivers who use seatbelts.
The “Click It or Ticket” effort has increased the number of motorists using seat belts from 80% to the mid 90% range. State safety officials believe that enforcement campaigns, tickets and penalties make a difference in driving behavior.
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal for drivers to text and drive. It is also illegal for drivers to use or talk on their phones while driving, unless they use a Bluetooth device. If drivers are pulled over for using a handheld device while driving, they may be fined between $200 to $400 for the first offense.
But can current NJ distracted driving laws decrease texting while driving? According to the State Police, in 2013, distracted driving was one of the main culprits of fatal crashes, as well as speeding or driving under the influence. There seems to be a disconnect between the law and the results.
Everywhere you look, drivers are texting while driving. When crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia into Cherry Hill, NJ, there is a sign that says “U Text, U Drive, U Pay.” Yet, many drivers continue to text and drive even after seeing the sign. Drivers know that it’s dangerous to text and drive, but may believe it’s not dangerous for them because they have never had an accident before.
NJ’s blitz ended on April 21, 2015. We will have to wait and see if the number of summons and citations decreased from last year. If there has been no change or an increase, perhaps NJ legislation will have to raise the fines in hopes that heftier penalties will curb texting while driving.
Help After a Cherry Hill & Marlton, NJ Texting and Driving Accident
If you or a loved one was injured in a texting while driving accident in NJ, you have legal rights. Call Philip T. Ciprietti, Esq. who has helped numerous South Jersey car accident victims. 800.281.8695
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